Joshimath: Sinking??

Joshimath is a town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is located in the Chamoli district and serves as the headquarters of the Garhwal division of the state. It is an important religious and educational center, and is home to several ashrams and temples, including the Sri Badrinath Temple. It is also a popular base for trekking and mountaineering in the surrounding Himalayan mountain ranges.

Town

Many houses have developed cracks in the walls, floor and some are tilted. This is due to sinking which is taking place. ISRO NRSC report said that subsidence was slow between April and November 2022, during which Joshimath had sunk by 8.9 cm. But between December 27, 2022 and January 8, 2023, the intensity of land subsidence increased and the town sank by 5.4 cm in these 12 days. The report has been withdrawn from the public domain.

Although report is of interest to those with scientific knowledge , Uttrakhand government must have done it to avoid panic among the residents. But ISRO NRSC is not the only agency studying this phenomenon there are other agencies like NASA who are studying it through satellite.As we know that Himalayas are young mountains geologically and lots of seismic activity goes on. Is the subsidence the result of natural phenomena or man made disaster?

Mostly it seems to be the result of setting up a electricity plant, rapid uninhibited proliferation of houses, and hotels to cater to the tourists.

Whatever the reasons, the excessive interference in the designs of Nature is bound to be harmful to the humans. Subsidence refers to the sinking or settling of the ground surface. In Joshimath, subsidence can occur due to a variety of natural and human-induced factors. One possible cause is the withdrawal of groundwater, which can lead to compaction and settling of the soil.

Another potential cause is tectonic activity, such as the movement of faults or the uplift or erosion of adjacent land. Additionally, the construction of buildings and infrastructure on unstable or saturated soils can also lead to subsidence. Subsidence can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure, and can also increase the risk of landslides and flooding. It is important to identify the cause of subsidence in order to develop appropriate management strategies.

Another reason which is cited by the local residents is that some radioactive material had been buried in the area by Americans in 1960 for snooping on the Chinese military activities on the other side of the Himalayas.

What is Real McCoy?

When a thing is of genuine quality or real, it is generally referred to as the Real McCoy. What is the origin of the phrase?

There are many theories about it. But mostly are of unconfirmed nature.

First mention is a 1856 reference to whisky in the Scottish National Dictionary—”A drappie [drop] o’ the real MacKay”.

https://www.drinkhacker.com/2013/11/18/review-real-mccoy-rum-5-years/

By 1870, two whiskey distillers by the name of McKay adopted the slogan “Real McKay” for their products. As the word travelled to America, it morphed into “Real McCoy”.

According to other accounts, the phrase originated in the United States during prohibition days in 1920. Florida based rum runner Bill McCoy brought a rum laden ship from Carribbean to New York and anchored it a few miles from the port where the prohibition laws didn’t apply. Customer believed it to be top notch because there were hardly any chances of adulteration.

Till now we have talked about the origin of the phrase in relation to the whiskey or rum. There are other stories that are connected to the

In 1872, inventor Elijah McCoy patented a self-regulating machine. It could lubricate the parts of the steam engine without human intervention enabling the train to run without stopping for lubrication. The success of the invention spawned many poor quality imitations which led railroad personnel to refer to McCoy’s machines as “the real McCoy.”

Elijah McCoy
https://www.ncrr.com/railevant/the-real-mccoy/

So which story is the one which is a “REAL MCCOY” ?

Chicken Tikka Masala

The man who is said to have invented the dish died on 22nd December 2022 at the age of 77 years. His name was Ali Ahmed Aslam and he was a Glassgow restaurateur. He migrated to Britain when he was 16.

Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam

He belonged to Lahore and his family was into farming. His uncle was in Britain doing tailors shop. But Ali was ambitious and soon opened an eatery in Glasgow serving typical tandoori food of Indian subcontinent. With time and exceptional success it became a restaurant with name Shish Mahal.

How did he invented the recipe which became the National dish of the Britain? Well, he says that one driver came to his eatery and asked for Chicken Tikka. But he said the dish was too spicy and dry. As he is not feeling well, he wanted something mild and sweeter. Mr Ali took the chicken tikka and added to it tomato puree and cream. Thus was born the iconic dish which became a rage in Britain.

www.spicezone.com

There are hundreds of restaurants across Britain who claim to serve the authentic dish. There are modifications as are in every food preparation.

Many people in India claim that dish was invented in India long back in 1947. But it was Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam who got the credit.

Stinging Velvet Beans

Mucuna Pruriens known by common names such as Stinging Velvet Beans, Cowitch and Madness Beans.

The bean seeds or legumes are used in many medicines. Legumes are rich in L-DOPA which is an amino acid. It is the precursor of Dopamine which is a brain neurotransmitter.

The beans are also calm inducing and boost testosterone levels in the males. Mucuna Pruriens legume helps in calming the mind. In comparison to many legumes, these beans contains higher levels of proteins. The beans are used in the treatment of snakebites.

The beans vine comes in two varieties. One is domestic and other grows in the wild. The vine is a nitrogen fixer in the soil and is thus planted to enhance the organic content of the soil and fertilise the soil.

Th wild variety bean shell which is velvety in texture is very harmful to skin touch. It gives the affected person acute itch and pain. This is caused by the mucuna protein which induces allergy.

I happen to spot the vines at few places in a forest near our home. I took the photos for reference.

Stinging Velvet Beans !!

Today I came across a legume vine which has climbed on a tree. I noticed the beans clumps hanging from the vine. These are velvety golden colored. The beans are very pleasant looking. But then I remembered my school days when some boys did the prank of touching someone’s skin with the bean shell. It gives a hell lot of itching and pain.

Pic by Me

These beans are called Mucuna Pruriens. These have other monikers like Stinging Velvet Beans, Cowitch and Madness Beans. If by chance you come in contact with the velvety part of the beans you will get very sharp itching and pain. Itching is caused by Mucuna which is Protein enzyme.

Stinging Velvet Beans

It is not that these beans are that bad. There are nonstinging varieties also. The stinging varieties are generally found in the wild. The seeds contain high amount of L-DOPA and are used in medicine for snakebite, Parkinson disease due to high amounts of L-DOPA. The beans are also used as aphrodisiac because they are very rich in protein content. The bean plant is a nitrogen fixer thus enhance the natural fertility of the soil.

#mucuna, #stingingvelvetbeans, #ldopa, #parkinsonsdisease, #snakebite, #nitrogenfixation, #cowitch, #madnessbean

Unbelievable Perch

A Large Tailed Nightjar lands in the concrete jungle!! There are some birds which have adapted themselves to live near human settlements. And there are others which are very reclusive. Birders go great lengths to spot and photograph them. One such rare bird is Large Tailed Nightjar.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical mangrove forest, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest.

Nightjars are the masters of camouflage and completely merge into the surroundings. But sometimes exceptions happen!!!My daughter and her husband live in a apartment situated on the 18th floor of Gaur City in Ghaziabad India.

On the morning of 12th October 2022, as they were getting their tot ready for school around 6 AM, they noticed a bird sleeping on the railing of the balcony of one of the rooms. Although they don’t do bird photography but out of curiosity they took its pictures through the glass door with the mobile.

Large Tailed Nightjar

As they don’t know the bird, she sent the picture to me as i am doing birding. I was astonished. It was a Large Tailed Nightjar.

How did a bird which keeps away from the human populations and lives in the dense branches of trees in shrubby areas ended up in the balcony of 18th floor?? May be it was on migration route and it so happened decided to roost for night here. God knows.

Bitter Melon!??

Karela aka Bitter gourd is bitter but it is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. Bitter gourd contains iron, magnesium, vitamins, and potassium. The calcium and potassium content in it is twice that of spinach and banana.

https://www.organicauthority.com/live-grow/why-bitter-melon-needs-to-be-in-both-your-garden-and-your-kitchenter
Bitter Melon

Are you surprised to know that it is not a vegetable but a fruit. It belongs to the family of Melons which are known for their sweetness and are popular all over the world. It is called “BITTER MELON

melonshttps://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2021/07/19/melons-tips-watermelon-cantaloupe-honeydew/

Karela is a native of Indian subcontinent and now it has been established that it contains a insulin like compound polypeptide-p which helps in regulating the blood sugar.

Karela contains potassium which helps to reduce the blood pressure by replacing some of the sodium responsible for increasing blood pressure.

It improves the skin and hair. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C.


Even USA is going to take its farming in a big way recognising it’s benefits.

https://sakasaka.net/bitter-melon-juices-7-health-benefits.html

Perhaps when God was distributing goodness to the family of Melons, all the sweetness was bestowed upon its brothern. It was feeling sad as it’s taste was very bitter and it was ruing the fact that due to the bitter taste nobody will like it.

But God blessed it and said “My son, I can’t make you sweet but i will bless you with so many nutrients and medicinal properties that you will outshine all your siblings and become a darling of the human beings”

Black Necked Stork

Black Necked Stork is a tall bird. It is a water wading bird. It’s scientific name is Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus). It has a long neck.

The bird is found in wetland habitats near rice fields where it forages on many types of prey. The bird is a resident of Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Female : credit Ranjit Singh

The eyes of the female bird are golden whereas that of male are black. Sometimes one can see them playing together in the wetlands.

Flying shot by me

Their population has been severely diminished. IUCN categorises it in the Near Threatened.

Juvenile : photo by Ranjit Singh

I have been lucky to spot this beautiful bird in the Surajpur wetland near Noida and also in the Dhanauri wetlands.

Carbs: All are not Bad

When the humans were evolving they didn’t know the art of agriculture. So they didn’t know to grow the edible plants. At this stage their diet was obtained from killing the animas. Thus their diet consisted mainly of fats and proteins. When agriculture was established, then humans added the carbohydrates into their food menu.

Carbs or Carbohydrates have become much maligned food from sometime. Many people say they are not good for health. These are mostly sugars. Sugars they say lead to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

Carbohydrates are one of the three essential categories of food along with fats and proteins. Carbohydrates provide energy to the body, fats also provide energy and fat and proteins build the bony structure of the body.

What are the carbohydrates?

Chemically carbohydrates are compounds made from Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are many categories of the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are synthesized in nature by plants and trees by a process called photosynthesis. This way they convert carbon dioxide and water into Glucose which is the starting material for making higher or complex carbohydrates like disaccharides, starches and cellulose. Human beings can’t digest cellulose.

https://pharmeasy.in/blog/know-everything-about-carbohydrates-its-food-sources/amp/

Monosaccharides

Monosaccharides are the simplest sugars. Two of the most popular ones are Glucose and Fructose. Whereas Glucose contains only sugar, Fructose contains vitamins and minerals alongwith sugar. These are derived mostly from fruits. Thus Fructose are better than glucose.

Disaccharides

Disaccharide means their skeleton is made of two Glucose units. Examples are Sucrose, lactose and maltose.

Starches

Starches are very complex molecules made from large numbers of Glucose units joined together. These are obtained from grains like wheat, barley and maize etc. Due to their complex structure, they are slow to breakdown into human consumable monomers.

How Carbohydrates provide energy?

Carbohydrates are like fuel in a vehicle. Carbohydrates are oxidised by Oxygen we inhale. During oxidation energy is released alongwith water and carbondioxide which are exhaled and again caught by plants and trees for making sugars for themselves and humans and animals.

Why body prefers carbohydrates than fat?

Fat provides about thrice the energy than same amount of carbohydrate. Even then body prefers it especially for giving instant energy to the brain. The reason is the ease with which carbohydrates can be broken down into energy. Also the byproducts are easy to get rid by the body.

Complex carbohydrates like starch take much longer to get hydrolyzed. First of all when we eat them, an enzyme called Amylase which is present in our saliva catalysis the starch breakdown in the belly. Thus the breakdown is slow and not instant and sustained over a longer period of time thus providing lower but sustained amounts of energy.

So in the nutshell the whole foods grains are better and useful to be taken. Carbohydrates from these are not harmful but useful.

Plantains and Bananas!!

Banana is the most consumed fruit in the world. It is very easy to eat. Just peel and eat. It is an instant source of energy. Sportsmen love it. It can be eaten in the form of milkshakes or as such. It is any time fruit.

Banana and Plantains look very similar. But in fact they have some subtle differences which make them suitable for different food recipes. Nutritionally there is not much difference between them. Plantains grow in Central Africa, the Caribbean, and other tropical regions, and they’re commonly used in Latin, African, and Caribbean cuisine.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-bananas/amp

As the bananas and Plantains begin ripening their colours start changing from green to yellow to black. Sweetness also increases in the same way.

Plantains are longer in size than Bananas. A plantain is almost double (12″) as compared to a banana (about 6″). Plantains are used mostly as a vegetable rather than as a fruit. When raw, both bananas and Plantains are bland. Sweetness increases as they begin to mature. When fully ripe, Plantains are more sweeter than Bananas.

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/all-about-plantains/amp

Sugar in the Plantains comes from starch. As starches take longer to breakdown into simple sugar they are initially less sweeter than Bananas. But since starches are complex sugars, they yield more simpler sugars.

Because ripe bananas are sweet, they are usually used in dessert recipes or baked goods, including banana bread, muffins, and cupcakes, often with chocolate chips thrown in. Chips are eaten as snacks.

Bananas are richer in many vitamins and minerals but due to their sugar base rather than starch base, user especially people with diabetes cannot overindulge in their consumption.

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